Designed by Bertie Crewe, the Shaftesbury Theatre opened in 1911 and the stone frontage has dominated the junction of Shaftesbury Avenue and High Holborn ever since. Saved from demolition in March 1974, it is now on the list of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic interest.
Like many other theatres in London it went through various appellations before becoming the Shaftesbury. Opening as the New Princes Theatre, it changed its name to the Princes in 1914 and housed series of melodrama. It was also used as a replacement for the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company when the Savoy was unavailable.
The large auditorium of 1,250 seats has always been suitable for operettas, musicals and ballets. The interior include eight bow-fronted boxes framed by giant Ionic columns. On top of each upper box, seat life-size statues representing Comedy, Tragedy, Poetry and Music. The successive bombings in 1940 and 1941 didn't stop the theatre from operating and the Shaftesbury remained open during the war years.
It was only 1962, when the building was acquired by Charles Clore and EMI that it was renamed the Shaftesbury Theatre. In 1987, it was bought by Theatre of Comedy company and it was followed by another much needed facelift 1989. In 1997, the theatre opened its doors to the Royal Opera whilst the Royal Opera House Coven Garden underwent major redevelopments.
Previous productions at the Shaftesbury Theatre include Hair, West Side Story, They're Playing Our Songs, Umoja, High Society, Daddy Cool, Hairspray...